Home Buying for Dummies and Three Other Books

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We found out two weeks ago that we’re moving back to the USA (from Australia) next month. I began the process of searching online for an apartment we might want to rent. Our former home was one bedroom: we are now a family of three. That won’t work.

Lo and behold, I found that buying a home and paying a mortgage would be a similar cost to renting. It just might be the time to buy, thanks to the low cost of homes right now. It is truly a Buyer’s Market.

However, I know nothing about real estate and mortgages. The thought of closing on a mortgage and owning a hugely expensive piece of property fills me with dread. I am pretty clueless. I decided to jump right in to some books to get me started and to get me ready.

In the last two weeks, I read/skimmed four books about real estate and mortgages. I didn’t read them in the best order, but I did “enjoy” them and learn a lot.

Home Buying for Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown, Second Edition

Home Buying for Dummies was an excellent starting point. The book covers budgets, selecting professionals to help you (such as real estate agents), searching and deciding on the right home, and securing a mortgage. It’s written by real estate professionals. I haven’t read other “for Dummies” books so I’m not familiar with the genre, but it was so easy to read and actually incredibly painless. If you’re looking to purchase, it’s a great starting point. And that’s coming from someone who was quite clueless.

100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask by Ilyce Glink, Third Edition

100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask was another basic book that helped me think about what I want, what I need, and where to go next. This book wasn’t as good as Home Buying for Dummies. While the subtitle claims that answers come from “brokers across the country,” I saw no evidence of that as it was all in Ilyce’s voice. I couldn’t figure out what authority she had to be writing about real estate and mortgages. It seemed she was a journalist—a columnist for a newspaper—and that didn’t give her much authority. (I just visited her website at www.thinkglink.com. Her About page says “Award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, television reporter, radio talk show host, and best-selling book author.” Why should I believe a columnist when it comes to mortgages? I would trust a real estate agent or broker much more.)

Also, I read the third edition of a book. It was originally written in the early 1990s—and it was obvious. Some parts could have done well to have a complete overhaul, rather than paragraphs that alluded to the fact that things have changed. We should read a book and not notice that it’s the third edition; we should know that everything is up-to-date. While there was some valuable information in this book, overall it’s not the best. I don’t recommend it.

Mortgages 101 by David Reed

Mortgages 101 was written by a mortgage broker with decades of experience—and I could tell. I felt I could trust his insights into the mortgage process. This book was invaluable in my search for an understanding of the mortgage process. After all, a house is the largest purchase I will have made up until this point in my life. I need to know what I’m doing before I sign all those papers. I felt David Reed helped me get to a point where I can begin the process.

You may be wondering how you could ever sit and read 200 pages of mortgage information. Trust me, this book (and Home Buying for Dummies) was approachable. While Reed may be a mortgage broker, Reed also has a natural conversational tone in his book. It was great. (However, the publisher could have hired a proofreader; there were silly errors like sentences missing periods and whatnot. As a former proofreader, I was a bit irked.)

Mortgage Confidential by David Reed

I read Mortgage Confidential after Home Buying for Dummies and it was above my head at that point. I still didn’t have a basic understanding of mortgages. But, like his precursor (Mortgages 101), Reed provided valuable insight into the mortgage process in this book. If you’ve already purchased before and you want some insider tips to getting a good deal on your home purchase or refinance, this book may help ease the pain out of the mortgage process with its easy tips.

When I joined the Nonfiction Five Challenge, I put a book about real estate on my alternate reading list; I didn’t realize I’d be contemplating buying a home so soon, but here I am writing about four such books. In the past two weeks, I’ve gone from not knowing was “escrow” means to be willing to start a house and mortgage search. It’s exciting to feel more in “the know” and I don’t feel quite as intimidated now.

If you’re feeling ready to make the home-buying jump, you may want to check out some of the books I’ve reviewed for more information on the finance process. Or, if you’ve read a good book, let me know in the comments. I’d love to learn more, and I’m always open to more book recommendations.

Reviewed on May 22, 2008

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • Hi! Thanks for stopping by. Dr Dobson is not an LDS author, you should be able to find him in any book store. He has some opinions that are not in harmony with the gospel teachings but a lot of what he says is. He is religious although he claims not to be a theologian.

    Good luck finding a home!

  • Rebecca- Thanks for the reviews, and very observant. Mortgages 101 is the everyday primer, Mortgage Confidential is at a slightly higher level for those interested in how the mortgage business really works…and welcome back to Stateside!

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